What is in a name ?
What is in a name, you might ask? I talk about nicknames or pet names or whatever you may call them. These names have so much of a story to tell. They tell you often about regional affiliations, religious inclinations, musical preferences; at times about size, shape, color or even a state of mind. Well, sometimes they convey nothing at all. Some names are distinctive of a particular region and you could almost fix a personality and a face to the name by merely listening to the name. An analysis of these names is as fascinating as the names themselves!
Classic nicknames like Tony, Rocky, Bunty, Pinky , Dolly ,Sweetie invariably remind you of warm , hearty ,affectionate, energetic folks invariably from Delhi, Punjab or thereabouts. Jhumi, Tinku, Rinku, Jhumpa, Jhumpi, Bulu , Toolu, Baapi and Khoka-the list is endless and takes you to the Bengalis, who are one of the great masters of the nickname business. A Goan couple I knew, had their first two kids named Bunny and Sunny and when they were blessed with a third one, a little late in life , they had no option but to call the young fellow Funny!
Chotu, a very popular name might have been alright for the kid but just seems a little incongruous when a hurly six -footer with a thick beard responds to this epithet. Also, somehow, most waiters in hostels, canteens and cafes just somehow are always Chotu. Baby, need not necessarily be of diminutive size and delicate disposition- I have seen enough who are neither baby-like in size or behavior. Tingu ,is more often than not a short , wiry individual. A subtle one was AB Singh ,a Sardar ,a trifle whimsical but who was rechristened ‘Ab-Surd’ for life!
Some names, invariably transform into abbreviated names and that sticks for life. Bharadwaj almost always is Birdy; Subramanian is either Subbu or Mani. Saxena, is often Sexy(regardless of sex appeal); Venkatesh is Venky; Chopra is more often than not Chopsy; Parthasarthy is Partha and Pattabhiraman is obviously Pattu. Krishna Kant Prem Kumar is KKPK; Dayaram Naresh Arolikar is popularly DNA and Algappa Baindraj Chellaiah Doraiswamy has to be ABCD and nothing else!
I may get confused with the real names of some very interesting personalities in college. But their nicknames are still fresh in mind. I don’t remember whether it was their physical attributes or behavior or persona which prompted these names but they sure got engraved in memory. Bull; Gainda (Hindi for Rhinoceros); Chipku(sticky); Moti(pearl) and the trio of Aadu, Maadu and Khadu- I don’t have the foggiest idea regarding the significance or the origin of the names but these names have survived time and tide.
Another set of interesting names are those based on gastronomic delights. One of my favorites was a set of twins, Kaju and Kishmish! Nobody can take away the thrill of calling out to Jalebi or tenderly beckon Jamun. HS Nath became Nuts for life and is quite nutty in his own way. A little out of the usual, a passionate mango lover, who had three boys fondly responding to Langda, Dasheri and Aapus- believe it or not!
Each name has a distinct character, flavor, identity and at the cost of disagreeing with Shakespeare , Rose can certainly not smell as special as Gulab!!